The Lion-Bear

I’m not that great with a pencil in hand, but lately I’ve taken up drawing. A cute little character here, something that looks like something no one’s ever seen over there. I’ve always wanted to be able to be an artist. And it’s not that I necessarily can draw now, but I start with a blank piece of paper, and end up with a collection of lines.

And that’s the thing: you start with just a simple line. Point “A” to Point “B”. Once I get started it sinks in that that line could be straighter; it could be a little longer. I don’t allow myself to get hung up on that though, because my line is my line and when I add up the sum of all of my lines I’m left with a lion. Or a bear. Or a lion-bear. But it’s something, and it’s mine.

Today I am thirty-nine years old. Thirty-nine! No big deal, I suppose. Well, except for the fact that I’m going away to school for the first time in my life. Talk about a curved line. Am I nuts? Well, yes, obviously. But that’s neither bear nor lion.

The Walt Disney College Program is a unique opportunity for students of all walks of life (and ages) to come and live, work, and learn with the Mouse. When I applied I needed a place to live and a new job. I figured I had little to lose. Still, I was pretty shocked when I got accepted. I’d come across so many other potential applicants turned away.

I’d love to tell you that I didn’t get down about the opportunity; that my particular situation, or “line” didn’t appear totally insanely bent out of shape. But I did. What is an old, out-of-work, loser doing going to live at Disney World with a bunch of kids?

Well, for one thing brain, that “loser” is going to fulfill a dream. See, I’ve always wanted to work at the Magic Kingdom. Since I was 7, giving my family tours of the parks have I longed for creating magic for guests. And they gladly accepted me and turned countless other, much younger applicants away. Not only did my age not hold me back, my true spirit and attitude spoke much more vividly of my character than a number on a lifeless page.

Am I’m going to be different? Obviously. But then again, when am I not the odd duck in a pond of geese? I do my thing, I bang my drum, I draw my lion-bear. Even if I knew how to “correct” the behavior that makes me stand out, I’d likely rebel and do it anyway. I think it’s the dreamer in me.

The way I see it, there’s not one particular mold. Now yes, the world would like you to think that there is, but we’re all just a collection of lines in a drawing. Every line is an experience, or a place in time that has made us who we are. My lion may not look like your bear, and that’s okay. It has to be okay.

Now then, my pencil is sharpened. My page, though a little older and faded is blank. But it’s mine to draw upon as I see fit.

My new boss!

Merry Exorcistmas!

Okay, I think I’ve got it. I’ve got a scary story for you. Well, scary depending on how you see it. Like I think if you look at it the right way, it’s scary. So look at it like, “AH SO SCARY!” I mean it’s not like you’re going to need an exorcist or anything. Though, those are fun. Mother Mary and I had a poltergeist one Christmas and needed a special priest. We called it “exorcistmas” because what else are you going to do when the soul of an old tugboat captain is trapped between this world and the one betwixt this one and he can only communicate by rattling your cabinet doors and flinging your underpants into the toilet. Merry Exorcistmas!

Still it’s kind of scary.

Did you know that I’m afraid of the sound of the telephone ringing? Oh my Gob, that sound. It’s what I imagine the devil’s farts sound like; chilling, sudden, deadly. The phone doesn’t ring in my scary story, but I figured it was worth mentioning since there is a phone in my story.

THE PHONE THAT NEVER RANG

Sorry. That’s not the name of my scary story, but OMINOUS!

I didn’t want to leave my apartment that day. Sure, there was work to do on my invisible phone booth, and, obviously, most of my worries live in my head and not outside the house, so I should be out. But I was stalling. That’s when I saw the delightful part of my story. Ducks! No, not just ducks. BABY DUCKS! Little waddlers! You probably know I really like cute things. Baby animals, pieces of lint, Janine Werner in the third grade. And I’m not ashamed to tell you that I squealed and jumped up and down at the sight of them. The baby ducks were headed for my porch! It was the most innocent thing that could have happened out of all of the innocent things that very well could have happened on that day. In April. In the scary story.

Jordo just laughed at me. I was living with Jordo at the time, but that hasn’t been established in our tale until just now. Surprise!

So yeah, Jordo laughed that I was making such a bid deal out of the troop of baby duck faces headed towards my face. But I didn’t pay her any bother. I didn’t pay her any rent either, but that’s a scarier story for a day that’s not this day. There they were, doop boop wooping straight to my door. Like, the sun was out, but my stupid smile must have been brighter than its rays. If they had a device to measure the sun’s power compared to that of a big dumb grin, it would have broken. “Too much glee,” it might say if it could talk. If it existed.

Come to think of it, I might have been the one throwing my underpants into the toilet bowl.

Now I know what you’re thinking…because I’m a physicist. “This story’s not scary in the slightest or whitest, Billy Wylde.” And that may be true.

But do you know what happened next?
I said, “do you know what happened next?”

(no one answers)

If you do, tell me, and I’ll shut up.

No?

Nothing?

(nothing)

Jordo stuck her big dumb phone in my face and said, “Look at this rare ottoman from a different time period. It would hold cheese” It was some stupid thing that some stupid body posted on the stupid world-wide-heckall and she just had to show me. What is it with people who are so eager to show you everything? Like, I know everything is out there. It’s all going to come to me eventually, or it isn’t. I don’t need you to go find antique furniture owned by Sir-Moth-For-Face and interrupt my very special duck moment, Jordo!

That’s the scary part…

People don’t live like they’re standing in the spot they’re standing. They live like there’s another spot that’s so much better than the spot they’re in. And if they ever try and venture out of the spot they’re in, well, they usually trip on the boa constrictor that nuzzled up to them when they weren’t paying attention.

And then the snake constricts them and they die and dying and snakes are scary. So is not being present. And interrupting my duck time.

THE SNAKE THAT CHOKED THE LIFE OUT OF YOU BECAUSE YOU WERE TOO BUSY NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS!

Has a nice ring to it.

(the telephone rings)

(Billy passes out)
Reg Naveen

it's (a) disorder

What is the word, that dirty, dirty word,
I can hear it, it’s like a diver on high on the board
and my ear is its pool
You know, come on, you know you know
Don’t mess with me like this, it’s too easy to get lost in this mental state
Oh, normal. It’s normal. It’s got to be normal
Why wasn’t I thinking?
Maybe, because it’s your word
And your words drip with stupid and rain down with regret

We all come out, we all shoot out with expectations straight away
Why is it we’re assigned gender roles and stereotypes right out of the womb,
But we can’t find a goddamn job after college?
You tell us to go to school
You tell us we’ll never be anything without that fucking cap and gown.
And yet we had better footing when we were fresh out of our mothers
Compared to drowning in the afterbirth of the debt and stress of higher education.

If all ye who enter are meant to be hopeless,
Then deliver me a new and fresh hell because
I own land in a fool’s paradise

I hear you again, normal, what a nasty indictment, normal.
I watch you nail each devious nail. I’m witness to the box built up around me
“Don’t stand out, son, you’ll have plenty of time to live once you’re…”
Sorry, don’t let me cut you off, but were you groping for “dead”?
Oh, life. Your siren’s call is an intoxicant,
but your hangover’s like Patrick Bateman in mermaid drag
You want me to subscribe to your gospel, my god, my god
But I’d rather blaspheme than follow your Wendy’s napkin directions to heaven

If all ye who enter are meant to be blind,
Then let me lead myself forward, for
this sightless man can hear the bells toll for thee

Who am I kidding, you’re probably right
Are we only meant to be broke-down, feeble and unpolished?
Is this poem not a poem, but just a song with a lifeless melody?
I don’t want to give in
I don’t want to give up
Because I’m guessing there’s still life to be sipped from your poison cup

If you’re going to be different
Then you’re going to pay the price
Well my account is overdrawn
And I’ve got no intention to stop spending now
Because I just don’t buy it
Your Orwellian order. Your overpriced prescription for complacency
That my healthcare doesn’t cover
And you’ll find I’m no hero, I’m not the “R” in revolution
I’m just saying I woke up this morning on a powder keg
With a book of matches in one hand
And the word resist in a dancing fire tattooed on the other

If all ye who enter are meant to be prisoners,
Then let us peek through the lies that stand as our prison bars
BANG




 
Reg Naveen

Weavers

    Let’s be honest, you really didn’t want to find out that your grandmother had passed away via a post on Facebook. No, you really didn’t “like” that. No, not at all. Your uncle is your appointed ride from the airport and he seems much more bothered to be out and among the living than usual. That’s rather ironic given that he knows his sister has died and he’s trying to wait for someone closer to you to deliver the news. I wonder if he’s even heard of social media. No, his gruffled half smile tells you all that you need to know. In a way, you know you should feel victimized by the timing of everything, you not making it to say goodbye and all, but you can’t help feel sympathy for your weary uncle who’s doing his best to lie through his mustache and his pain. Let’s face it, shaving would barely solve one of those issues.

    New Jersey has always been kind to you, and its welcoming ocean breeze flirts like a former flame back for another tryst on the shore. You can’t help but wonder about those who lack a deep connection to where they were raised, if they’ve ever felt like they had a “home”. But those are lovely distracting thoughts and you’ve got an emotional fissure in your heart demanding attention. What a wicked web life spins as you see peace and freedom somewhere in the distance and yet you’re tethered to a personal quagmire that can only lead to one eventual outcome.

    That’s likely not something you needed to hear but I can’t say that I’m sorry; the narrator must, well, narrate. They certainly need to hear it, it’s not all about you, you know.

    “Well, she’s at peace now,” your mother says, saying the thing you always say when someone has died. Your eyes well up as you feel sympathy more for her than anything, having to deliver such a tired line.

    You slump into your grandfather’s dusty old chair, which your Nan has watched over since his passing. What is the protocol now? Do the chairs watch out for each other, as the days pass and the spider-webs gather? No, they are just chairs, and this is life we’re dealing with.

    “You’re free to come stay with us,” some random family member mutters, knowing your only other option is the bed your grandmother just wilted away in.

    “I’ve booked a room,” you mention, hoping the “Good Lord I’d rather eat the fire of the Sun than stay in your home,” isn’t speckled throughout your tone.

    It’s a fancy room too, right by the ocean. Pretty nice, seeing as how you didn’t have to pay for it. Is it even legal to use a deceased person’s credit card? You never were one for self-discipline, a sad truth that the woman who raised you just took with her into the ether.

    Your drive alone to the fancy hotel that sits along the shore is rather peaceful, save for the stench of misery in the air. It almost feels like you’re on vacation, you selfish son-of-a-bitch. Okay, that was a bit harsh. Not that you can hear me, you’re not paying attention to me. Nor are you paying attention to the road once the spider web cascades over your tear-stained face. The steering wheel jolts along with your hand, towards where oncoming traffic would be at an earlier hour. You spit wildly and wipe at your face as you right yourself, at least on the road. Just where did it come from? You’d been driving far too long to just now encounter a web that’d already been present. And just how quickly do spiders weave their elaborate deathtraps? This all feels far too bizarre and you dash out of the car and into the hotel lobby before you’re forced to give in to those terrifying thoughts.

    One wants to feel comforted, that’s why they book stays in luxurious hotels. This is not a fact lost on you as you toss and turn encountering everything but comfort. I might say it’s some form of karma that you’re so distraught, but you haven’t asked.

    “No, I can’t!” you scream, awaking from sleep that seems to have barely started. Who knows what in the world you were dreaming about, but it’s certainly taking a toll on you. You attempt to wipe the sleep from your eyes, but it’s not really dust or any other normal particles, no, it’s her web.

    She sits at the edge of your bed with a salty gaze. It’s a look you’d rather not be looking at, that much you can make out from the film over your webbed eyes. She doesn’t move. She doesn’t speak. I mean, obviously she doesn’t speak, she’s a spider. Though we are talking about a giant, angry, monster of a spider at the edge of your very bed in this lovely hotel room, so I suppose it’s worth considering this is some form of evil Charlotte’s Web situation. Perhaps you should ask her. But you don’t. Slowly, deliberately, she starts to make her way toward you. You shiver and shimmy, but you’re not going anywhere. You’re as helpless as Icarus trying to return to the sky after his run in with the sun. You’re trapped and it’s all your goddamn fault.

    “Nan, I’m sorry. I’m…sorry. About this fucking room. About not being able to say goodbye,” you scream out to the spider, to the heavens, to the people trying to sleep in room 312. “It’s not my fault, I got here as soon as I could. And it’s selfish, and typical of me…but I’m glad I didn’t have to see you like that. You pushed for me to be perfect, but you loved me in spite of me falling short. I love you. I’m sorry.”

    The menacing arachnid doesn’t seem all that impressed. She returns to webbing your mouth shut to prevent future outbursts. The occupants of room 312 won’t be disturbed again.

    The next day your family gathers at a lifeless funeral home. Most of these people haven’t shown their faces in years. You’d love to give them hell for never really being there for you, for your Nan. It’d be easy to slight them for only now showing up wearing their ill-fitting Sunday-adequates, with their gaseous foods in their sad, antique bowls. But you smile, you comfort them with a hand on the shoulder. For you know that she’s watching.
As am I…
Reg Naveen

Merry Christmas, You Might Be Dead

  There is far-too-much homework to be done for you to be out hunting demons on this wintery, New Jersey night. Of course your 5th grade Social Studies wouldn’t make for a captivating story, so here we are. The spirit in question is one you know most aren’t familiar with, but it looms over each of your Christmas seasons, and this year in particular it feels more ominous then ever before. The demon, and yes, it’s quite appropriate to call it that, is a Christmas tree; the dark force is your father’s obsession to find pine-fir perfection. The chill that runs down your spine reminds you of the sugarplum fairies you’ll miss out on dreaming about this year. For if your father has his way, tonight you’ll freeze right to death in the wicked winds of a coming nor’easter. And he’ll be smiling. And you’ll be just dead.

  It wasn’t always like this of course. The years of the artificial tree standing proud in the corner of your little ranch house are now looked upon quite fondly if not with nostalgic glee.

  “I know Bri, I don’t want to go out in the cold any more than you do,” your mother was quick to remind you has she fought your zipper from your belly to your throat. “But you know how gung-ho he’s been about Christmas since…the incident.”

  Now the three of your are packed wall-to-wall in your little family sports car, the one that doesn’t even seem big enough for the road itself, let alone for transport of the tree you just know he’s going to choose.

  “Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, Ring-ting-tingling too,” your father scream-sings, wearing a joyous, yet manic face that would be right at home in any sanitarium’s Christmas pageant. “You should sing you know. Stay warm. Gonna need it,” he says, as if the drugs kicked in.

  The incident in the woods two years ago changed him. Changed Christmas. Made it harder to look at the woods the same way.

  The car skids in a panic as he pulls into the Christmas tree lot. The unique weather conditions allow for an almost private shopping event for your family; no one else is crazy enough to brave this winter idiocy. He’s survived worse though, and he’ll be certain to remind you if you dare complain. So you zip and prayer to the Gods of zippers and winter wear in general. May they keep you warm on this demon hunt.

  “The storm has caught meteorologists off-guard and the public is advised to…” the radio crackles just as your father kills the engine. Your father heeded no warnings two years ago, he certainly isn’t going to now.

  “Nope. Not big enough.”
  “Too wide.”
  “This one’s insulting. I wouldn’t put this up in your mother’s house. Not even as a joke. I hate her.”

  Your father knows what he’s looking for, but he’s not willing to share it. The hour had to be perfect. The weather just terrible enough. The window of opportunity to find such a sacred symbol could only lead to this frozen moment. At least that’s the only thing that makes sense as your brain welcomes a blanket of frost.

  As you trumple down aisle after aisle of unworthy Douglas Fir, as you forsake each and every sad looking Norway Spruce, your steps become that much more laborious. The wind is a wolf howling in what could pass for laughter as your little family pushes on into a snowy assault. The night sky is a barren white, and your little mind can’t quite put together a picture of reality in which the sky, the ground, and your sad mittens are all the same shade of empty white.

  And now…darkness. You weren’t paying attention. You should be much more careful but you don’t heed warnings either. The little of your face that’s been left naked in the elements is swatted as the tree branch punishes you. Staggering back you’re overtaken with wonder. Cascading deep into the heights of the stormy night sky is a beacon in the frozen nothing. Far taller than any tree that’s been judged previous, this monstrosity must have been cursed by the Gods; or it’s been left as a ladder for them to climb back down to Earth as needed. He’s found it. Your father has found his tree.

  It was a tree that saved your father’s life two years ago. Or at least, something like a tree he said. A storm, much like the one ravaging the east coast tonight snuck up on him while he was working on a downed telephone line. That was his last day of work. It quite close to being his last day of breath.

  “Goddamnit look at it. Would you look at it?” he screams as you wonder if you could even look at anything else but it.

  “Fred, no,” your mother says. “You’re not getting that thing home, let alone dragging it through my living room.”

  “Oh…but…I…am”

  The telephone truck lost a battle with a patch of black ice. Black ice is like quicksand: you hear a lot about it but you don’t tend to worry about it until it’s already outsmarted you. The gash in his head was gruesome, the terror in his heart otherworldly. The fire that erupted in the engine didn’t help either issue.

  A 14 foot tall Christmas tree does not belong on the top of a ’77 Mustang. You’re certain it must say so in the manual. Yet here it is, this leviathan of green needles hanging over the windshield and every other of the car’s available viewpoints. You’re reminded suddenly of one of your baby pictures. You’re wearing your father’s work uniform, a flea drowning in an ocean of denim. The raging storm outside makes visibility laughable, but the vanquished monster engulfing the car while in said storm, well that’s just a damn laugh riot. You can tell because your father’s laughing with what can only be described as cheerful lunacy.

  The night of the incident, your father crawled bloody and broken from the wreckage of that old truck, and as he tells it…someone came from deep in the trees to save him. When he first told you that story, you wanted nothing more than to believe him, but even at that age skepticism was brewing. But now that you’re speeding down a snowy highway with an obviously blind maniac at the wheel, you’re really starting to wonder if someone’s not looking out for you. Some…mystical element or whatnot.

  The coldest night in New Jersey history is throwing a party all around you, yet somehow your little brood makes it back to your little ranch house. As you pile out of the car, you’re once again gob smacked at the sight of the damn thing. The tree looks bigger than the house it’s meant to inhabit, and you’re not the only one to notice.

  “I told you it wasn’t going in this house, it doesn’t even fit in the door,” your mother says as your father wrestles the big green monster in an ever-defiant doorway. Refusing to look defeated, dad simply glares at her while she seems to ponder not just this mess, but every mess the old man had gotten her into. You can’t help but wonder if she’s picturing a version of her life without you or your father in it. Luckily for you, you don’t have time to fall down that particular mine-lined rabbit hole.

  “It’s going to need to go over the fence and through the sliding door,” he mutters.

  “Over the fence?” you hear your mother and your brain scream out in chorus.

  The blood covered his face in a crimson mask, and the cold turned his skin to a worn out sheet meant to protect muscle and bone. The trail of blood the started at the fiery wreckage drew a curved line to a massive tree out of the wind, out of the flame. What happened next of course is up for contention. Your mother swears emergency services found him, which, let’s be honest, makes sense. But the greatest stories ever told aren’t quite that simple and logical, and the story he told three days later when he awoke in the hospital was a wondrous tale starring an enchanted king and a long-lost city in the forest.

  That’s why he lives each day now like it’s his last. That’s why he goes all out at Christmas. In a way, it’s why you almost die tonight.

  As all 14 feet of the tree sails over the picket fence the trunk introduces itself to your chubby chin. The unfavorable green pine needles rip at your face until they are quickly drenched in blood. The snow, once a cruel adversary is now a soft blanket as you collapse in a dazed heap.

  And now…darkness.

  You wake up in the hospital. Christmas has passed. The demon has won.

  “You’ve got to see the Poloroids of the tree, kid,” the first words out of your father’s mouth.

  How did you get here? Did some enchanted king and his people rescue you from that damned tree? From your father’s reckless obsession? Did all of the right things happen at just the right time in order for the tiny window into that strange, far-off world to open to you? Not likely. You’re not even that bright, and you understand that.

  Maybe your father just wanted to share a lesson with you. Perhaps he knew one day you’d need to find a beacon, something to attach yourself to when the bitter bite of the wind rips at your face. It’s all mundane…all of it. You’ve got to find something worth fighting for, even if that takes you deep into the heart of the storm. That, or you too have now suffered a traumatic brain injury and are want to make things up. You’re truly not certain.

  At least he’s smiling. At least you’re not dead. 
Reg Naveen

The Hitchhiker

You’re so busy arguing with your fiancé that you don’t even notice the shadowy figure leave the mysterious parcel at your doorstep. The figure created an ominous visage through the cracked-glass window in the door for at least one minute and forty seven seconds. This argument is what they might call a doozy.

The cell phone receiver begins to burn as your agitation matches the overworked mechanics of a phone that has been pressed against a chin for forty six minutes. You wonder if it’s even called a receiver when it’s a cell phone in question. Then you remember waiting in your closet with your old wall phone’s cord stretched to unthinkable limits waiting for Jacqui Alton to call. Jacqui Alton would never accuse of you of not attending to her needs. Jacqui Alton’s needs were few and you were dutiful.

Your fiancé would be incensed if you mentioned that. Or Jacqui Alton. Or any other female in the known universe or universes undiscovered. She’s kind of touchy like that.

Clearly.

“I’d like to see you face the fact that you’ve never considered working to be the man I deserve,” she says, each word barbed a little more than the one prior.

You think about all of the possible “smart” retorts, all of the possible “clever” retorts, and even all of the possible “DOOMSDAY, FIRE AND BRIMSTONE” retorts. But you’ve shattered the phone against the kitchen wall so it’s all for naught now.

You stare at all of those little, over-heated mechanics bouncing and dancing on the floor and feel bad for them. It’s not their fault you’ve chosen to consort with a monster. It’s not their fault that their final moments were spent burning themselves to a crisp for a conversation between a reasonable human being and a walking grease fire. It’s not their fault, but there they are dying an unreasonable death on an un-mopped kitchen floor.

“Not cool,” you mutter.

The little pieces likely don’t enjoy the irony.

You don’t notice the mysterious parcel sitting on your doorstep as you slam the cracked-glass door behind you. You don’t notice the pedestrians on the cobblestoned sidewalk looking at you with a mix of terror and extreme terror. It seems you have a bit of the fire about your eyes, but that’s to be expected: you’re down one cell phone, possibly one relationship, and definitely your grip on reality.

The bitter chill of the ocean should startle you, but in fact, it seems as if the venomous steam surrounding you sends the breeze scurrying back into the void on this winter night.

The car doors slams so hard it makes a hollow yelp that haunts the confines of your hate-filled prison. The highway shrieks as your tires tear apart the pavement, 86 miles-per-angered-mile. You don’t know where you’re going as the darkness beckons and rage paints pictures on its sinister canvas. The glow of the dashboard lights, those grim, yet glorious lights remind that you must have punched something in your travels; the blood trickling down your hand a clear reminder that you’ve forgotten the unforgettable.

You might wonder where you are as you put the car in park, but something has lead you to a place you’ve lead yourself to before. The Spy House is one of America’s most haunted of locations, an ill-boding Colonial dwelling perched on the lips of the Atlantic. She’s called to you before, on a happier day with a sun-inspired sky. You didn’t dare embrace her call that day; fear is the nastiest of plan killers.

This night has a darker ending. This night finds you on her porch, banging on her glass-cracked door.

“I’m not afraid of you!” violently escapes your mouth, though you have no idea you’re a liar.

“What’ve you got? Huh? Nothing? Yeah, that’s what I’ve thought. You’re nothing to me. I can’t believe I was ever afraid of you.”

The Spy House chooses not to reply. Perhaps she’s just letting you get it out.

“WHATEVER!”

The cool humid of this New Jersey winter sky blankets your anger as if to put it to bed, but your anger will hide under the sheets with a flashlight. Your anger is secretly reading “How to Win a Winless Battle and Emotionally Wound Yourself In Perpetuity”, one of Sun Tzu’s lesser works.  

You’re home again; the enmity drove your car as recklessly as it drives your thoughts. You slam the shattered-glass door behind you, an oblivious ghost to the mysterious parcel, bathed in bloody glass.

The dog must be walked. Of course the dog must be walked, he’s never considered working to be the dog that you deserve.

The Great Auditorium is a menacing hellscape, racing into God-less sky. It towers, it taunts while you freeze yourself stupid, a man and a dog both in need of letting something loose.

You simmer.
You pace.
The dog sniffs.
The dog wiggles.
The wind dances.
The wind dies.
No one seems to notice the arrival of the Shadow Man.
Until you do.
And then the volcano birthed by your imprudent emotions is chilled.

He’s headed right for you, the body without a feature, the man-shaped demon.
The grass crackles as your feet tear apart the ground, 3.7 miles-per-fear-filled mile.

Over your shoulder he’s there, around every corner he follows.

You whimper.
The dog laughs.
The Shadow Man pursues.

As you reach the hopeful sanctuary of your home you notice a mysterious package, covered in bloody, broken glass on your doorstep. As you slam the glass-less door behind you and turn around you see him a final time. You pick up dog and mysterious parcel, alike. Remnants of the window dig into your skin as if to explain your darkest mysteries. The little pieces of the phone, the shattered pieces of broken glass, the lack of attention you gave to putting your hand through your cracked-glass door, what little commitment you’ve offered your fiancé…

At that very moment you notice nothing more as the Shadow Man disappears in the winter wind.
Reg Naveen

NOOOOOOPE (w/video)

Hold on, my dear
Don’t you know that
You don’t bring a knife to a word fight?

And also
It’s only fair for you to know that tonight
I’ve chosen a shield of my thickest skin

I know you’ve found me stab-able in the past
We both recall the blood you’ve drawn
The wounds you…covet?

Hell, If I couldn’t see these red flags a-waving
I’d say, “man I must be blind!”

So, come at me “bra”
Ah, right?
Get it? “Bruh”… but, ”bra”…cause you’re a girl
Yes, I thought that was clever
And I knew that you’d hate it
That’s what made it so enjoyable

An odd feeling
Joy
Around you
Knife in hand
Venom colored eyes
“Stabby-stabby” your gaze a screamin’

Trust me
You don’t have it
The thing to put me down
The words to shut me up

You’ve been a rose-less thorn for more days then I can recall
And the fun ran out around the bottle’s last drop
So if you want a fight
If you’re looking to poke holes in my curtains to led the blood moon in
Know
Please know
I’m ready

The say the man with nothing left to lose will take everything you have to offer
Well at least I said it
Just now
Your hate’s a fire and my marshmallow heart has already been toasted

Yes, I sound like an asshole
No, I really don’t care
You’ve been mean, you’ve been callous
Your abuse has been documented
You’ve taken my attention far too long
Like a library book you had no intention to read
Nor return

We battle
Forth
And then back
You slash
And I parry
You hate that I laugh
But I know
I just know

That even if I lose, I know you’ll never win

For knowledge is power
And tonight I’m the electric company

So that’s it, we’re done
I can’t speak with surprise
Nor regret
Or sadness over this ash-covered whimsy

But you have the mic
With intentions to drop

And there’s no way I could have predicted
the slash that’d come next
It didn’t go for heart, or my head, not even my breast
No blood was drawn and not an injury found

You had the last word…
I found no reply

When you screamed
“I’m done”
Good
“It’s over”
Fine
“I’m a mermaid”


Reg Naveen

A Little Too Hard, A Little Too Often

I didn’t even know what love was until I saw it in a movie. Sure, a parent who never lets you wander in front of a moving tractor is love. Pizza on Friday night is love; it’s a goddamn Austen romance, melted in cheese.

No, it wasn’t until Grace Kelly appeared on screen that love entered my mind, and took home in my heart. My life didn’t have a purpose until the courtesan put diamonds aside in favor of the penniless poet. My heart didn’t sing along with my voice until Leia finally let Han past the Rebel blockade guarding her heart.

What is a film if not an escape? What is love if not a reminder that every rain storm is an invitation to dance?

We really don’t need any reminders that suffering is as common as cheese on crackers. We have enough bickering and resentment towards our friends, towards our own bodies to not welcome a break. We sleep with enough broken glass in our brains that we practically rattle when we roll over.

So what if we kiss a little too hard, a little too often?

Who cares if we write poetry with blissful profundity over that girl with the hair and the eyes who’s writing a song for that other dude with the fingers and the bowties?

Why don’t we all run away for just an hour? Just for one day? Or even a forever? Why doesn’t everyone venture to Paris at the turn of the century? Why don’t they sing atop giant, jewel-encrusted elephants?

Have they not seen her bite her lip as the sparkle in her eye jumps out as if to say, “Boy, history is going to be written about this very next kiss,”?

Were they never witness to the way he walks in those pants, those fucking pants, good God, who in the world even has a right to look that good in pants?

Somewhere right now there’s a dog sniffing a butt like no other butt it’s ever smelled and he’s about to run around the yard with a mixture of terror and glee. Do they not know that feeling?

That feeling is love. I’ve seen it.

Where I’m from we have to protect ourselves. It’s best to bury ourselves down so far in the ground that there’s no risk that even a breeze could alter our course.

Where I’m from hate rolls in a little too hard, a little too often.

And so you might find me stranded in Casablanca.
I’m probably doing a set at the Moulin Rouge.
I probably just uttered, “As you wish,” another damn time.
It’s not about the running away, no.

It’s about having just a little more hope each time we come home.


 
Reg Naveen

In Which He Really Wanted to Title This, 'A New Hope'

In the end, it’s just a life. It’s equal parts the thing he finds missing, and missing what can be found hanging menacingly above him. It’s 6 P.M. It’s just waking up. It’s mourning the lost day. It’s grasping for what’s left. It’s the ghost, the day left dead leading him toward the light. The light isn’t the end. The light is hope.

Obviously, hope isn’t so much a promise, as a whispered tease. That the mind can be so far gone, yet so easily find something to chase; that is the grand promise of a universe that neither needs us, nor is remembered if we’re not here to speak of it.

I asked for freedom, and when I gave up everything to find it, the realization that freedom is simply a construct hit me like a Great Dane: violent enthusiasm mixed with potential, loving death. You don’t get a party when you walk away from a ten-year relationship. You get an odd assortment of boxes and perplexing questions regarding who really owned the salt and pepper shakers.

“Why are you eating spice-less pasta? Freedom, that’s why!”

As I stare at the sad conglomeration of stuff that one might say represents my life, I wonder what I’m fighting for. Why even wake up at all? Why start over when I could easily just succumb to withering in this muck? “Why not?” doesn’t seem sufficient enough an answer.

But why the fuck not?

Famous wordsmith Mr. Sirwhosworth once famously worded,

“My vast intellect and this intoxicating concoction of advice and apathy will help you through this day, should the need arise, should you remember this quote.”

That’s helpful only of course if you know how to break the quote down, and if he ever really existed or rambled like that in the first place. Can you tell the writer of this piece is in a bad way? Do you know that the writer is me? Who am I kidding (myself? My audience? Mr. Sirwhosworth’s widow?), you probably know more than I do. I’m just plucking away at the keys, hoping at least ten percent of this work serves the gods.

The gods of making sense
The gods of sanity
The gods of _______ (CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE!)

I probably could have just taken the salt and pepper and she wouldn’t have noticed.

In the end, it’s just a life. It’s equal parts knowing exactly what you need to do, and not knowing exactly how it should be done. It’s 6:30 P.M. It’s frantically writing. It’s honoring the current moment. It’s tenderly touching what’s available. It’s the angel, the girl in your dreams that you might meet one day. The dream isn’t real. The dream is hope.
Obviously hope isn’t so much a promise, as a passing caress. That the mind can be so dark, yet so easily lit by flame; that is the legend of the thing called ‘love’, the intangible thing we so desperately embrace.

It’s taken 500 words to realize it needs to be said, but look, I’ll be alright. ****REDACTED CLICHÉ****, it’s just going to take ****REDACTED CLICHÉ**** and then ****REDACTED CLICHÉ****.

The widow Sirwhosworth returned to the expansive meal she’d set out for her dining companion. The Broken Writer had been a stranger only a day ago, but the with passing of her husband, many of his former students began turning up.

“I hope you don’t mind, he always liked it when I went a little overboard,” she said.

“Not at all,” The Broken Writer replied. “You didn’t have to go through all the effort, but you did. Says a lot about you.”

“He’s gone, but it still feels like he’s right here, watching. I still like pleasing him, does that make sense?”

“Sure.”

“His is a light that won’t go out. Now then, I don’t recall you mentioning which of my husband’s classes you attended.”

“Oh, I didn’t. I pretty much made him up in my imagination.”

The Widow Sirwhosworth scoffed behind her teacup, “Well that doesn’t make a lick of sense.”

“I know. I prayed about it, but you never know which god you’re praying to.”

“You certainly are a silly young man. I do hope you don’t grow out of that. Now, tell me, how is the pasta?”

“I can’t lie, it’s amazing compared to what I’m used to. Still could use a little more kick though…”

“Oh, I’ll grab the salt and pepper.”

“No thanks, I brought my own.”
Reg Naveen

Bite That Lip

Hand tangled in hand
Eyes on eyes
Caramel melting into hazel deep
The heart’s doing that thing
that makes me think
it might burn like fire
or it’s just waking up
Can’t be sure

Girl you got me beatin’ my drum
Casting that light
Out into the dark
In the face of the night
Afraid of nothing
But running fast

Body on body
Skin, sweat, skin
Burying ourselves deep within
The sins our hearts and minds
Fight to keep out
But long to drink in

Tortured bliss starts like this
Girl when you bite that lip

Where you takin’ me baby-girl
What’s the plan
Don’t have one?
Just keep shakin’ them hips
‘till my will says “quit” and I dive
Deep within the questions keeping
Our bodies from dancing
like wind in rain

Girl you got me hammering fists
Calling your name
Out into the void
In the wilds of the wind
Recklessly driving
Driving so fast

Body on body
Skin, sweat, skin
Burying ourselves deep within
The sins our hearts and minds
Fight to keep out
But long to drink in

Tortured bliss starts like this
Girl when you bite that lip